History of Switzerland

The growing phase of Switzerland (1291 – 1815):

  • 1291: The 3 states Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden – the so
    called « Ur-Kantone » unite against the surrounding aggressors. A citizen of each
    state swears on august, 1st 1291 on a small mountain named « Rütli »:
    « we
    will be a one and only nation of brothers … »

    This leads to the term
    confederation (« Eidgenossenschaft »)

  • 1332: Luzern joins the Swiss Federation
  • 1351: Zürich joins the Swiss Federation
  • 1352: Glarus and Zug join the Swiss Federation
  • 1353: Bern joins the Swiss Federation – 8 states form the
    acht alten Orte (« eight old states »)

  • 1460: Foundation of the first university of Switzerland at

  • 1481: Fribourg and Solothurn join the Swiss Federation
  • 1500: Beginning of a new area called « Renaissance », people
    become interested in science.

  • 1501: Basel and Schaffhausen join the Swiss Federation
  • 1513: Appenzell joins the Swiss Federation
  • 1522: Beginning of the « Reformation »
  • 1648: Declaration of Independence – Switzerland becomes an
    independant Nation

  • 1803: Sankt Gallen, Graubünden, Thurgau, Ticino, Aargau and
    Vaud join the Swiss Federation

  • 1812: The Swiss Federation declares its neutrality.
  • 1815: Valais, Neuchâtel and Genéve join the Swiss
    Federation – Switzerland gets its final boundaries

The more recent history of Switzerland (1815 – 2000):

  • 1848: The Swiss Federation changes from a Union of States
    to a Confederation. Its first Federal Constitution (« Bundesverfassung ») is set

  • 1864: Foundation of the International Red Cross (IKRK).
  • 1872: Start of the construction of the railway across the
    alps (« Gotthardbahn »).

  • 1882: Opening of the « Gotthardbahn ».
  • 1932: Swiss physician Auguste Piccard sets record when he
    reaches a height of 16’940 m with his balloon. This was the first ballon
    equipped with a preassure cabin.

  • 1960: Jacques Piccard (son of Auguste Piccard mentioned
    above) sets record when he dives together with american Don Walsh in a
    Bathyscaphe (special type of submarine) called « Trieste » as low as 10’916 m
    below sea level.

  • 1971: Swiss people vote for the women’s suffrage.
  • 1978: Some villages leave the state Bern and found the new
    state Jura

  • 2-oct-1984: The combined federal assembly (« Vereinigte
    Bundesversammlung ») elected Elisabeth Kopp as the first woman as Bunderat
    (executive authority). Ms. Kopp had to step back on 12.1.1989 due to some
    possible illegal activities of her husband.

  • 1992: Swiss people vote against becoming a member of the
    EEA (european economic area)

  • 31-jul-1992: Claude Nicollier (born 2-sep-1944) takes off
    on board of the space shuttle Atlantis (ST-46) and becomes the first Swiss in

  • 10-mar-1993: The combined federal assembly
    (« Vereinigte Bundesversammlung ») elected Ruth Dreifuss as the second
    woman as Bunderat (executive authority).
  • 2-dec-1993: Claude Nicollier’s second journey on board of a
    space shuttle. The mission of Endeavour (STS-61) is seen as the most difficult
    one so far, the repair of the Hubble space telescope. It is Claude Nicollier’s
    task to catch the telescope with the robotic arm of the space shuttle.

  • 1999: Ruth Dreifuss became the
    first female president of the Bundesrat (« Bundesratspräsident »).

  • 11-mar-1999: The combined federal assembly
    (« Vereinigte Bundesversammlung ») elected Ruth Metzler as the third woman as
    Bunderat (executive authority). Ruth Metzler is 34 years young
  • 20-mar-1999: Swiss Scientist Bertrand Piccard
    (son of Jacques Piccard mentioned above) and british co-pilot Brian Jones have
    become the first balloonists to circumnavigate the globe with a non-stop,
    non-refuelled flight. It has taken the team 19 days, 21 hour and
    55 minutes to travel the 46’759 km on board of Breitling-Orbiter 3.
  • 18-apr-1999: Swiss people accept a new Federal Constitution
    (« Bundesverfassung ») on a vote.

  • 21-may-2000: The Swiss people accept the bilateral
    contracts with the European Union